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Cypnet > Articles > Turtle Conservation in North Cyprus

Turtle Conservation in North Cyprus

Northern Cyprus beaches are very important for the nesting of the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas and Loggerhead Turtle Caretta Caretta. Thanks to work done by volunteer students from Britain and Europe, in conjunction with the Ministiry of Environment, these turtles are given every opportunity to have the best start to their difficult lives. Only one turtle hatchling in one Turtle

thousand will live to maturity. Visitors and tourists to coming North Cyprus have the opportunity to witness the nesting and hatching of these turtles. The project, organized by the University of Exeter in the Cornwall campus, is now in its 20th year and goes from strength to strenth. Joni Walker was 2005. year's project leader and has taken over from Wayne Fuller.

There are three bases to be organized; the main base is at Alagadi beach, at "The Goat Shed" which is situated 20km east of Girne. The other two bases are sitedat Akdeniz village and Long Beach Club.

Nestling Season of Turtle

During the nesting season(June & July) night work is carried out on two beaches at Alagadi. The other two bases survey the beaches at daybreak.

Night work entails working from 9pm to dawn(c. 5am). During this time the entire length of the two beaches is walked every 10 minutes, checking for tracks of the female turtle. Once tracks are found the students follow them until they have sifght of the female turtle.

The students then time and record her behaviour. Once the female has begun to lay her eggs the team can begin to check her tags and measure her, also whilst the eggs are being laid a numbered tag is placed in the egg chamber. If the female has not been previously tagged a specially numbered tag is placed on her front flipper for future identification. After laying is complete and the female turtle has returned to the sea a wire screen is placed over the egg chamber to protect the eggs from predation. Measurements are then taken of the position of the nest on the beach.

Day work at the other two bases begins at dawn and volunteers survey the beaches for turtle activity which has taken place the night before. These activities are recorded and any nests that are found have wire screens placed over them to protect them from predation by dogs and foxes.

The hatching season begins around the middle of July and continues through to the end of September. During the hatching season all beaches are monitored at dawn


checking for any hatched nests. Once a nest has hatched it is excavated and the contents of the nest are analysed to assess the success of the nest. Any hatchlings remaining in the nest are collected and released under cover of darkness. Unhatched eggs are analysed for fertility and embryo development.

Two species of turtle nest in Northern Cyprus: these are the Green Turtle(Chelonia mydas) and the Loggerhead Turtle(Caretta Caretta). The students currently monitor 20 beaches around the coast of North Cyprus. This work is carried out by approximately 25 university students from the UK.

The hatching of nests will continue well into late September. Anybody wishing to go along with the students on night patrol to witness the laying of eggs, or to see a nest excavation and hatchling release, should visit the project's base at Alagadi during the afternoon to list themselves and to find out if a nest is being excavated that evening. Numbers are limited so it is important to book your place to avoid disappoinment.


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